The War In Afghanistan Is Lost. So Why Is The US Still Fighting It?

It is a rare thing for a conventional army to admit its military mistakes; to acknowledge that its plans, strategies or tactics are – or were – wrong. Whether in public or in private such admissions usually take years to emerge; if they appear at all. The British Army’s gung-ho internal assessment of Operation Banner, its three-decade counter-insurgency campaign in Ireland during the so-called Troubles, has been described by its critics as a masterclass in the art of institutional obfuscation and double-speak (though when the analysis was made public in 2007 even the BBC wasn’t fooled, concluding that the, “Army concedes for first time it did not win the battle against the IRA“). Explaining defeats by blaming others or pretending that undesirable outcomes were the intended ones all along are excuses with a sorry history in military affairs.

So when armies do acknowledge that things are going wrong, in however bureaucratic or circumspect a manner, one should take note. Here are a few salient points from the quarterly report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the government agent tasked with analysing a key aspect of America’s broken war in Asia:

SIGAR completed four financial audits of U.S.-funded contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements to rebuild Afghanistan. These financial audits identified more than $27.2 million in questioned costs as a result of internal-control deficiencies and noncompliance issues. To date, SIGAR’s financial audits have identified more than $414.5 million in questioned costs.

During the reporting period, SIGAR investigations resulted in three criminal indictments, one criminal information, three arrests, three convictions, one sentencing, over $200,000 in restitutions, and more than $5.5 million in savings for the U.S. government. One indictment was against the Afghan-American former owner of Equity Capital Mining LLC, a now-defunct marble-mining company in Afghanistan, for defrauding the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a U.S. government agency, and defaulting on a $15.8 million loan. SIGAR initiated 11 new cases and closed eight, bringing the total number of ongoing investigations to 267.

SIGAR’s suspension and debarment program referred 13 individuals and 16 companies for suspension or debarment based on evidence developed as part of SIGAR investigations conducted in Afghanistan and the United States. These referrals bring the total number of individuals and companies referred by SIGAR since 2008 to 866—encompassing 478 individuals and 388 companies.

Some more waste:

The inspection report found:
• State awarded Al-Watan Construction Company (AWCC) a $16.1 million contract to renovate Pol-i-Charkhi prison, Afghanistan’s largest correctional facility, which had suffered 35 years of neglect. This contract was funded by Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). Despite the costs inflating to $20.2 million, only about 50% of the renovation work was completed, and the AWCC contract was cancelled in 2010. In 2016, SIGAR found that INL had not completed the renovation work or corrected earlier deficiencies.

The 272 page document goes on to admit that much of Afghanistan has become a no-go zone for the Coalition forces and their domestic allies. Indeed, one is left with the impression of a besieged US colony in Kabul with a few embattled outposts dotted around the countryside, more for form’s sake than for any great strategic purpose. All of which makes the United States’ commitment to a war it can’t win, and isn’t even really trying to win, all the more inexplicable.

 

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10 comments

  1. The GWOT is not supposed to end. War profiteering is an efficient way to loot the taxpayer while ensuring the money ends up in the right hands.

    Did you see Prince got to make an in person pitch to Trump for increasing mercs in Afghanistan? Betsy Devos being his sister probably helped there.

  2. if the USA had had a look at history they would have seen that nobody, but nobody, has ever conquered Afghanistan – greeks, brits, russians all failed before them. All Empires of the time that was in it!
    In any case the reasons for the USA going into Afghanistan have changed so many times over the years that it is impossible to understand what they hope to achieve
    Chalk up another Vietnam!
    Afghans will be there, on their land,on their terms. with the government they want that will govern as they want, long after the Americans have gone

    1. True enough. The US is playing god knows what game, because oil, influence, new cold war strategies, the “encirclement” of Russia, etc. makes very little sense even in their own terms when you do a simple cost-to-benefit analysis.

  3. Trump recently admitted the US is losing in Afghanistan. Something a US president never says. Which is why I like him. Trump wants out of Afghanistan but there are powerful people in DC hired by the war mongerers Obama and Bush who want the resources there. Lets hope Trump wins over them and ends these insane endless wars.

  4. The reason the US continues to put troops and resources into Afghanistan is political. If terrorists strike the US or US-related sites again and are found to have any links to Afghanistan, no matter how tenuous, the president who pulled the troops out will be pilloried for “not getting the job done.” Never mind that it’s never been clear what the job was or is. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Republican in the Oval Office or a Democrat, once the dust clears (literally) after a terrorist attack, the opposite side will use it to the political advantage, or at least that’s the concern. I can think of no other reason why we would continue to waste resources and lives – both those who are killed and wounded overseas, and those who return and never the same – for such a quixotic quest.

    1. Opium sells well in the global market. Apparently opium production has rocketed since NATO invaded Afghanistan. The pesky Taliban had outlawed it,the carns. Wouldn’t be the first time the CIA delved into the drugs business.

  5. It’s an endless money maker in terms of public money, drugs, and weapons, along with being a great testing ground for emerging weapon technology, just like like Vietnam (nobody really cares how much it costs the tax-payer, similar to our political shills here in Eire – if you question that, all you have to look at that they are willing to destroy their country over who is president, like it really matters). The only reason Vietnam ended is because they lost support at home and finally got kicked out. The Greeks (to be more precise the Macedonians) and the britz actually quite effectively ruled the region, and similar to elsewhere at the height of their respective empires, with considerable brutality (chopped off heads, blowing folks to bits – when this still violated religious principles, filling bodies up with pork grease, etc…), and their reign ended only with the end of their empire. Like many such regions, there is really no such thing as Afghanistan as a country, it is a European construct applied to place where it simply does not apply. The Americans are reluctant to apply british (purposefully not capitalised) or ancient malfeasance to the same level. They don’t want to repeat the mistake they made in Vietnam, and cause enough outrage to be forced to quit. I have learned that if one seeks an answer for any nonsensical appearing American policy or conduct, all you have to figure out who gets paid, and suddenly it all becomes logical and makes sense. Yes, they are really that f..ked up (not that I am trying to imply that we are that much better, we are just not quite at their level as of yet).

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